Lehman Welcomes Talented and Accomplished New Faculty for 2013 – 2014

For fall of 2013, Lehman College welcomed twenty new faculty members and nearly 3,000 new students—one of the College’s strongest incoming class in two decades. The new faculty bring with them a wide range of research interests, including fitness and body composition, psychology and neuroscience, French literature, and computer science. Here is a brief description of who they are and what each will contribute to campus life.

Sheila M. Blachman has been appointed Lecturer in the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Literacy, and Special Education. With 35 years in special education, Blachman has experienced all sides of the spectrum, as a parent, a special education teacher, a special education administrator, and a supervisor/trainer of teachers, and paraprofessionals. Blachman previously served on the faculty at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, CT, and as Inclusion Facilitator with the Newtown Board of Education in Newtown, CT. Blachman holds a Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Leadership, and a Master of Education and a Master of Science in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Health Education from CUNY Queens College. Her interests lie in ensuring all students with special needs are included in the regular educational environment.

Mia Budescu joins Lehman as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Previously she was a visiting assistant professor at Franklin & Marshall College. A graduate of Indiana University at Bloomington, she earned her Master’s Degree from New York University and her Ph.D. from Temple University in Developmental Psychology. Her research interests include social and emotional development among adolescents and the impact of poverty and stress on adolescent and family functioning. At Lehman, she teaches experimental psychology and psychology of adolescence and oversees independent study.

Peggy Conner was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing ScienceA graduate of Ithaca College in speech pathology and audiology, she received her Master of Science in communicative disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison before pursuing clinical work and teaching in Chile, Venezuela, England, and New York.  She was recently awarded a Ph.D. in speech-language-hearing sciences from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her areas of interest include aphasia, dyslexia, fluency, and multilingualism. Her dissertation was entitled, “Novel spoken-word learning in adults with developmental dyslexia.”

Susan Dumais is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department. Prior to joining Lehman, she was an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in sociology at Louisiana State University. A graduate of Columbia University, she earned her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. Her academic interests are in sociology of education, social stratification, the sociology of culture, gender, and research methodology. Recent publications include a quantitative study of parenting practices and teachers’ evaluations in Sociological Perspectives, and a mixed-methods study of adult online learners, comparing first- and continuing-generation college-goers in American Journal of Distance Education.

Amin Erfani has been appointed Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Literatures, where he teaches French. Erfani earned a Lycée Hélène Boucher Bachelor of Arts in French and Comparative Literature and a Master of Arts in French Literature from SUNY Stony Brook. He earned a Ph.D. in French with certificates in Comparative Literature and Psychoanalytic Studies from Emory University. His teaching and research interests focus on avant-garde European theater, new media, critical theory, French 19th and 20th century poetry, and psychoanalytic studies. Collaborating with cultural organizations in the United States and France, he has initiated a series of productions of contemporary French plays with his original English translations, particularly from works by Bernard-Marie Koltès and Valère Novarina.

Jessica Gordon-Roth has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department. Prior to joining Lehman, she was a visiting assistant professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. She received her Ph.D. and Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Gordon-Roth’s research is focused on the ways in which different conceptions of “substance” and “mode” inform the early modern debate over personal identity. She enjoys teaching history of modern philosophy, logic, critical reasoning, introduction to philosophy, and other courses.

Matthew Johnson has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. He is a member of the faculty in Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has previously taught at Columbia University and New York University. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Mathematics (double major) from Lawrence University, a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Computer Science from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the CUNY Graduate Center. His research focuses on applied theoretical computer science as applied to energy and smart grids, security, networking, and sensor networks.

Alison Lehner-Quam is the new Education Librarian at the Leonard Lief Library. She comes to Lehman after serving as director of Resources and Technology Development at Lincoln Center Institute where she founded a library focused on arts and education. Prior to her time at LCI she was the assistant director of Columbia University’s Children’s Literature Institute. She holds a Master of Science in Library Service from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in drama from the University of Washington. Her teaching and research interests focus on the inquiry process in both teacher education information literacy and in the K-12 classroom; children’s literature and early childhood education; and how research on teaching and learning can inform teacher education information literacy.

Anna Luerssen has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. A graduate of New York University, she earned her Master’s Degree and her Ph.D. in Social-Personality Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include social-personality psychology, particularly the role of self-esteem in romantic relationships, along with delay of gratification during development. She is the co-author of “The Role of Emotion and Emotion-Regulation in the Ability to Delay Gratification” in Handbook of Emotion-Regulation, 2nd Edition. This semester she is teaching a course on emotion and motivation. In the spring, she will teach social psychology.

Justine McGovern is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work. She was an adjunct lecturer at the NYU Silver School of Social Work before coming to Lehman. Her research interests include families and the lifespan, bio-psycho-social issues in aging, qualitative research methods and social work, well-being and dementia, rights-based social work, and interdisciplinary approaches to gender and aging. In addition, she serves as a dementia caregiver support group leader for the Alzheimer’s Association New York City Chapter and as a parental care consultant for Aging Families Consulting in Brooklyn.

Gina Marie Miranda-Diaz is a Clinical Assistant in the Department of Nursing, where she has taught part-time for the past twelve years, instructing international and generic students in the B.S. and M.S.N. program. She has been a registered nurse for three decades. She holds dual masters’ degrees in Community Health Nursing and Public Health. In September 2012, she earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Before joining Lehman in her new role, she became the first Latina in the state of New Jersey to become a Health Officer. She has published several articles and has been a contributing author in two nursing textbooks. She is on the graduate faculty committee to launch Lehman’s first Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree, scheduled for summer 2014. She continues to engage in research and health promotion activities to reduce health care disparities in her community.

Allan Molnar was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Music. He currently serves as the artistic director and producer of the Johnny Pacheco Latin Music and Jazz Festival at Lehman. Before joining Lehman, he was active as a percussionist and educator in Toronto. He is the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. When not at Lehman, Molnar works as a freelancer in the music industry. Molnar holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND.

Jermaine Monk is a Lecturer in the Social Work Department. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in urban studies from Rutgers University, his Master of Social Work from Temple University, and his Master of Arts in theological studies from LaSalle University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University. His area of research explores contemporary notions of male identity construction and it’s impact on academic outcomes among male collegians of color. Prior to coming to Lehman, Monk was a part-time lecturer—both at the undergraduate and graduate level—in the Departments of Social Work, Africana Studies, and Urban Education at Rutgers.

Nikolaos Papanikolaou has been appointed Lecturer in the Department of Economics and Business, where he focuses on econometrics, macro-econometrics, statistics, the interdisciplinary field of econophysics (non-parametric and stochastic approaches to the statistical size distributions of income) and business cycles. Papanikolaou previously served as a research assistant at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. Papanikolaou earned his Ph.D. and Master of Philosophy Degree in Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York City; a Master of Arts from CUNY City College; and a Bachelor of Science from Salem State College.

Mary Phillips has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies, having served from 2012 – 2013 as a Substitute Assistant Professor at Lehman. She came to Lehman from Michigan State University, where she served as a coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions. Phillips holds a Ph.D in African American and African Studies, History Cognate, from Michigan State University; a Master of Arts in African American and African Studies from Ohio State University; and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science-Health Studies, Specialization in Black American and Diasporic Studies, Specialization in Health and Humanities from Michigan State University. Her areas of specialization include 20th century African American women’s history, black power studies, black women’s studies, and black feminism.

Rena Quinlan was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. She teaches courses in biology, microbiology, genetics, anatomy and physiology, and molecular biology. Quinlan holds a Ph.D. in biology with a specialization in plant molecular biology from the CUNY Graduate Center, a Master of Arts Degree in Biology and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications and French from Lehman College. Her research has been published in Plant Physiology and in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Quinlan holds a provisional patent on “Cells and Methods of Producing Lutein.” As a doctoral student, she worked with Dr. Eleanore Wurtzel to develop a method for producing lutein, a carotenoid important for visual health in bacterial cells.

Bradley Schoenfeld has been appointed Instructor in the Department of Health Sciences and Director of the College’s human performance laboratory. Schoenfeld is an internationally- renowned fitness expert and widely regarded as a leading authority on body composition training (muscle development and fat loss). He has won numerous natural bodybuilding titles including the ANPPC Tri-State Naturals and USA Mixed Pairs crowns. Schoenfeld is President of Global Fitness Services, serves as a consultant to Reebok International, and serves on the advisory board for Dymatize Nutrition, a leading manufacturer of nutritional supplements. Schoenfeld is the author of multiple fitness books including The M.A.X. Muscle Plan, Women’s Home Workout Bible, Sculpting Her Body Perfect, Look Great Naked, Look Great Sleeveless, and Look Great at Any Age. Schoenfeld holds a Master’s Degree in kinesiology/exercise science from the University of Texas and is a Ph.D. candidate at Rocky Mountain University. His research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.

Lisa Vernale was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences, where she focuses on Health Education. Vernale previously served as a health teacher at Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, Nassau County and taught at the Mary Louis Academy. After teaching at the high school level, she went on to begin her higher education career at Adelphi University, where she worked as the campus health educator and as an adjunct professor in the Health Studies Department. She is currently working toward her Ed.D. in Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and holds a Master of Arts in Health Studies from Adelphi University and a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Hofstra University.

Mohan Krishna Vinjamuri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work. He has been an adjunct lecturer both at Lehman and at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. He holds a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and a Master of Social Work from Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Welfare in 2012 from the CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation was titled “Being with Difference: Parenting Experiences of Gay Adoptive Fathers.” His research interests include social work with LGBT populations, child welfare practice, the experiences of same sex parents and their families, and approaches to teaching research methods to social work students.

Ni’Ja Whitson has been appointed Lecturer in the Department of Journalism, Communication, and Theatre, where she teaches dance. Whitson is an interdisciplinary artist and independent choreographer. Her recent positions include assistant and contributing choreographer to Dianne McIntyre for the Goodman Theater’s production of Crowns. She recently completed an international tour of her performance solo, root shock, including invitations in New York, Canada, and Rio de Janeiro. Whitson was selected as the 2013 Artist-in-Residence at Lake Forest College. She previously served on the faculties of CUNY Hunter College, Columbia College (Chicago), Chicago State University, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Whitson holds a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Performance, both from Oberlin College.